Standing in the Dark While All the Lights Are On
During Advent I will be featuring three guest posts, each by a different author and with a different theme and style. This week features a reflection about choosing to see the light of Jesus written by Rev. Bill Pugliese, who served as an interim priest at St. Brendan’s from 2008 to 2013.
Rev. Bill Pugliese, now retired, served in eights parishes, six dioceses, and four states over his forty-six plus years of ministry in the Episcopal Church. He writes a weekly blog Back Home At Last and occasionally serves as a supply priest or clergy mentor within the Diocese of Pittsburgh.
Grace and peace,
Like not seeing the forest for the trees, it is sometimes possible to stand in darkness while all the lights are on. When our hearts and minds are elsewhere, when we are so consumed by the here and now, it is often so very difficult to see what is right in front of us. We know that to be true because we have all been there at one time or another in our own life, perhaps been there many times.
Jesus came to give light to the world, was and is the light of the world. Yet, throughout his entire public ministry there were those who saw him, who listened to him and who, for whatever reason, for whatever was going on in their personal lives, still saw nothing because they were standing in the dark, light or no light.
As in life, so with our faith: if we want to see, if we do not want to stand in the dark, we have to flip the switch. Not only do we have to turn on the light, we have to see what the light reveals, be open to what is now exposed to us. We can refuse to do so. It is our free-will choice. Jesus did not force anyone to listen to him, to see him for who he was, to see in his actions the work and will and way of God. If they refused to look, if they refused to see, if they were unwilling to do their part, there was nothing Jesus could do.
There is still nothing Jesus can do if we do not want to see, truly see, see clearly, what our faith demands. We can always close our eyes, turn away, turn off the light, even refuse to believe what we are seeing. Any excuse will be good enough if we do not want to see what Jesus reveals, and for whatever reason or excuses we use to deny the truth of his revelation.
There were those who, in truth, did not see what Jesus was teaching, truly did not want to see. It was not that they could not see. John says that Jesus was the light, and he was. There was nothing hidden, nothing secret about his message or even the meaning of his message. The fact is, he really did see, really did understand. The light Jesus shone on them was very clear. They simply did not want to change the way they were living. They simply put on blinders.
When we read scripture and read what Jesus did and when we hear in our hearts what he said, we know he could not have been any clearer in what he said and in what he meant. He lived what he taught, which is as good as it can get when it comes to shining a light, if you will, on what is being taught. In fact, that is the only way to truly teach. Our words only go so far. Actions tell all.
Jesus’ way is to be our way. Just as Jesus was the light to those who encountered him while he lived on this earth, so we must be the light for those whom we meet in our daily lives. There must be nothing hidden, nothing secret, about our faith and what we believe. If others refuse to see, there is nothing we can do. What we must do is give them no excuse for not seeing, for standing in the dark. Our actions, the way we live and move and have our being, as an old Collect reminds, is the way we shine the light for others – or not. It’s up to us to be the light of the world today. Am I? Are we?
Rev. Bill Pugliese